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A team of medical personnel, emergency management specialists and drone technology experts, including from NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), will conduct the first ship­-to-­shore drone delivery in the U.S. on June 23 on the New Jersey coastline.

The flights will demonstrate the capacity of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to provide life­saving aid to victims of a disaster, such as a hurricane or system­-wide failure of electrical or communications infrastructure. In a test, the Nevada-based drone delivery company Flirtey will fly medical samples for emergency testing between an improvised onshore medical relief camp at Cape May and a test facility on a vessel stationed off the coast. In a round trip, the company’s drones will also deliver medical supplies from the vessel to the onshore camp.

The Red Cross and several United Nations (UN) agencies will participate in the event, coordinated by the disaster readiness organization Field Innovation Team (FIT), to assess the technology’s ability to improve the timelessness and reliability of medical equipment delivery and diagnostic testing in disaster zones.

“We recognize the opportunity for us to engage with drone developers and operators in ensuring the principled application of game­-changing technologies in response to humanitarian crises around the world,” said Andrew Billo, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). “Participating in this event supports the mission of the OCHA to mobilize and coordinate effective humanitarian action with a broad range of partners.”

The flights will be conducted out of the Cape May Ferry Terminal under NJIT’s federal Certificate of Authorization (COA) to fly in the national air space, granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In 2015, NJIT and its partners were the first team to conduct UAS flights in the state under an FAA program to test the feasibility of safely integrating drones into the national airspace and to assess the research and operational capabilities of communications and mapping sensors aboard an autonomous aerial platform.

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